PRINCE Eze can see it from afar: the banning of imports in the NCAA could only lead to unproven and unprepared big men in the future.
Obviously disappointed with the NCAA ruling imposing a ban on foreign student-athletes starting in 2020, the Perpetual Help center believes that their eventual cessation could stunt the development of the next wave of frontcourt players.
“Banning an import is not a good idea, if you ask me, because it’s gonna make them more lazy,” he said. “I say it for the Filipinos’ side, it’s gonna make the players more lazy. They think that it’s easy to go for layup and its easy to do those stuff, and when they get to Fiba, it’s gonna get worse because they wouldn’t have it easy.”
The league has laid down the law stopping the enrolment of so-called imports to its member schools back in 2016, which left these last two seasons as the final time players from other countries could suit up in a varsity team.
Eze feels strongly against the decision as he believes that basketball-wise, foreign players have done nothing but good things for Filipino players.
In his time with the Altas, the Nigerian has battled against smaller yet feisty forwards like Kevin Racal, Bradwyn Guinto, and Sidney Onwubere, all of whom are now in the pro league.
“If you ask me, they shouldn’t (ban us). (The NCAA has) helped us foreigners and for us, we’re also helping them to improve the standard of their basketball. Just one import in the team is not too much,” he said.
In turn, the schools have given these players scholarships, with Eze now on his fourth year as a marketing student in Perpetual.
“The Philippines is helping us get our education and have a better life,” he testified. “Before, I wasn’t as responsibile person as I am today. But now, I feel responsible for the team to help us get to the playoffs. They shouldn’t do that because they’re helping us too. Everybody back home appreciates what the Philippines is doing for us.”
Despite everything that has happened, Eze is just grateful for the chances this country, especially Perpetual, has given him with this opportunity to not just play but also learn.
“It gives me the peace of mind that if I stop playing basketball today, I have something to fall into. I’ll start a business because I can easily express myself. I’m not a shy person and I can do business,” he said.
“Studying and having the college education here is a lot for me because back home, it’s really expensive for my parents, for my father. It’s a big deal for me. But after NCAA, I’ll make sure I’ll get my degree.”